The celebration of the summer solstice at Full Heart Farm kicked-off the countdown to winter on the farm. Nothing like a heat wave to trigger thoughts of snow, wool socks, and hot cocoa. And nothing like a string of 16-18 hour work days to prompt a quick fast-forward of my calendar to a day when I can schedule “Sleep In.”
But that’s not to say I’m rushing things along (well, I may be rushing along the vegetables, which still seem to be growing at a snails pace). I’m enjoying settling into my new routine and the mood on the farm is energetic and surprisingly positive, despite a challenging week of rough luck.
My series of unfortunate events this month included: the neighbor’s dog attacking my core flock of layers, a heat wave that hit fast and furious causing 15 ready-to-harvest meat birds to perish, adopting a flock of egg-eating laying hens with mites, visits from both a fisher cat and a fox, forgetting to add cider vinegar to the chick’s water and developing coccidia, getting 5 inches of rain on the day of our first CSA pick-up and then getting the truck stuck in the mud. It was a draining week, but a practice in perseverance and gratitude.
This month’s main lesson on the farm was in acceptance. I do not like to make mistakes and I hate when things go wrong, but I was forced to admit this month that bad things are bound to happen some time or another. And then, usually it’s a string of them all at once. Even when the misfortune is partially my fault, so much of what happens on this farm is out of my control. I can sit and worry, or I can accept that hail happens and work to be more prepared.
So, this month I was finally inspired to put together a kit of emergency supplies for the livestock: blue cote, sutures, electrolytes, etc. I modified my rotational grazing plan to better accommodate stretches of hot weather, and made note that Cornish Cross are not the variety of bird for me (even though they do produce a beautiful broiler). I bought a radio for the barn and I’m working to make it more predator-proof. I made a lot of popsicles to have on hand in the freezer for the next heat wave. Small, simple changes that push me to continuously improve.
There were moments this past month when I felt totally discouraged, but they were usually followed by moments when I felt unendingly grateful for the support of my family and neighbors. Misfortune always forces me to pause and reflect on all of the really great things in my life, and thankfully there were so many great firsts this month, as well!
I started vending at the Ledyard farmers’ market here in town. Even though I don’t have much to sell, it’s a great opportunity to meet other townspeople and chat with local farmers. It’s a great break in the middle of the week and I’m so happy that I joined, even though I initially hadn’t planned on it.
We also had our first CSA/MemberShare pick-up at the farm this month. It was really nice to finally meet the brave souls who signed up to support a farm that hardly existed, show them around the farm, and hand them their first Full Heart Farm meal: Herb Roasted Chicken over Radishes and Greens. That was also what I made for our first family dinner of the season, and the verdict was that it was really delicious. From the farm to the table, I’ve never felt so proud. And that’s what makes this lifestyle so addicting: hard work, community, and delicious, delicious reward.